Be Nice to Your Librarian: 5 Tips on Library Etiquette


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“Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

Public libraries are a valuable source for the public and especially so for poor writers. At libraries one has access to computers and databases, endless books, and knowledgable employees who can assist in research and reference questions. As a library worker, I’ve experienced the gamut of clueless people acting a fool at the library. Library etiquette may seem painfully obvious, but for many adults it isn’t. As fellow poor writer Devin says, “People are dumb, I think.” In a world where many things go horribly wrong, there are no reasons to start knife fights over twenty cent fines, no reasons to hurl paranoid accusations toward librarians, and most certainly no reasons to demand red carpet treatment for your FREE membership where you don’t pay for anything, ever. Now that the work week is over and I have had time to breathe in and out, I’ve configured a few dos and don’ts for you library goers.

1. Pay for your copies and fines

Librarians and assistants aren’t here to screw you out of your money. If you weren’t late returning your books, guess what, you wouldn’t have had to pay a fine. Get over it. As for copies, as a patron you’re using library resources which the library will have to replenish. No one gets something for nothing, stop being cheap.

2. Are you really on your phone?

I’d say the majority of people, whether they go to libraries or not, know cellphones and music aren’t allowed. If I’m staring you dead in the face and you turn your back, you still have to get off of your phone. If I ask you to get off your phone and you say, “One more minute,” guess  what, you still have to get off your phone and yes, this means Skype, Facetime, and video chats. Why are you making my life so difficult?

3. Don’t call the library to ask for Rummy instructions 

Bite me. I don’t owe you a read along while you play a card game with your bestie. The reference desks purpose is to aide in research and information pertaining to the library and its resources, not how many decks of cards you should be playing with. If you don’t want to be tech savvy, though basic use of the internet isn’t that difficult to master, you should know the world isn’t going to cater to you, it’s going to leave you behind. Just saying.

4. Paranoid accusations against library staff won’t get you what you want, whatever it is

If you’re asked to lower your voice, stop making on the low faxes and photocopies, or to stop verbally abusing employees, this doesn’t mean anyone’s out to get you. It means that you’re out of control, or out of your mind. Get yourself together, examine you’re behavior, and realize employees aren’t your lapdogs, they’re people trying to make a living. Show a little graciousness.

5. Do your own work

Yes, we’re here to help, but not to do your work. I’m of the teach a man to fish persuasion. If I teach you how to find and utilize what you need, do it. No excuses. The only baby I’m willing to coddle is my unborn one waiting to be born.

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